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Four facts about tense that you should know

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PostPosted: 3rd June 2007, 09:22 Post subject: Four facts about tense that you should know

Tenses





. Four facts about tense that you should know:





1. Tense and time are not the same.



The word tense refers to the forms of verbs in certain languages (including English of course, but many languages do not have tense). The word time is far more difficult to define, but we all experience it. Time is what we measure with clocks, watches, and calendars, for example.





2. Tense and time are related, but it is not a simple (one-to-one) relationship.



That is, present tense does not always mean present time; past tense does not always mean past time. The following simple present tense sentence does not refer to the present time (unless you happen to be reading this very early in the morning):



The sun rises in the east.

In fact, the relationship between tense and time is quite complex. A past tense verb, for example, can refer to a future time:



If I had an exam tomorrow, I would study tonight.



3. It is impossible to completely describe the English system of tenses in ONE PAGE

English, like all human languages, is extremely complex and almost infinitely flexible. And, as you probably know, nearly every rule about language has many exceptions. Below you will find descriptions of the major English tenses (predicate verb forms). I’ve tried to give you some basic information about the forms and meanings of the twelve traditional tenses. While I believe everything that follows is correct, I know it is not complete.




4. English has only two true tenses: present & past.




Everything else that is usually referred to as tense is really a combination of tense, aspect

(continuous, perfect), and/or modality. I will follow the traditional practice and refer to all of these combinations as tenses. However, if you examine these verb forms carefully, you will see that every one contains either present tense, past tense, or a modal auxiliary.
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